The CreaSolv Process technology has been developed with the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Germany, inspired by a similar innovation used to recycle TVs.
It is an example of the ‘circular economy in action’, according to the two organisations, as sachets are turned into plastic and then channelled back into the supply chain.
“CreaSolv® Process technology has been adapted from a method used to separate brominated flame retardants from waste electrical and electronic equipment polymers. During the process, the plastic is recovered from the sachet, and the plastic then used to create new sachets for Unilever products - creating a full circular economy approach,” they explain in a statement.
Sustainable sachet solution
The innovation has been developed as part of Unilever’s ongoing Sustainable Living Plan, confirming once again that sustainability is a hot priority for the industry.
“Billions of single-use sachets are sold every year, particularly in developing and emerging markets,” explains Unilever.
“Sachets are extremely resource efficient and allow low-income consumers to buy small amounts of products that would otherwise be unaffordable to them, but without a viable recycling solution, sachet packaging ends up in landfill or as litter. As part of its Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever has long been committed to finding an alternative to throwing sachets away.”
Win-win: financial incentive
David Blanchard, Chief R&D Officer explains that although improving its environmental impact is a key concern for Unilever, this kind of technology comes with financial benefit too.
“There is a clear economic case for delivering this. We know that globally $80-120bn is lost to the economy through failing to properly recycle plastics each year,” he explains.
“Finding a solution represents a huge opportunity. We believe that our commitment to making 100% of our packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable will support the long-term growth of our business.”
Unilever has pledged that all of its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and notes that this sachet recycling innovation is one step in the journey towards those ambitious aims.